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How to raise fit kids

It may not seem like a big deal now, but good health will be a concern for your children as they grow up. Make it easier on them by encouraging good fitness habits while they're young.

Kids are lucky: all that energy, all those years ahead of them. Grown-up concerns such as heart disease and obesity seem decades away.

But that's no reason to put off adopting healthful habits until middle age. Encourage your kids to adopt an active lifestyle now.

The American Heart Association recommends these tips:

Get them off the couch. Limit eyeball exercise such as television and computer games to no more than two hours a day. That leaves more time for exercising the rest of the body.

Exercise family style. Mobilize the household for an active outing to a nearby ski resort or water park. Take a long afternoon walk or go on a hike. Take a bicycle ride.

Put them to work. Assign your children some chores that are appropriate to their age, strength and abilities. These may include mowing the lawn, raking leaves, scrubbing floors or taking out the garbage.

Get organized. Help your children find sports or physical activities that they find interesting. Find community programs that offer activities, lessons or teams your kids can join. They might find something they'll love for the rest of their lives.

Put homework on hold. It needs to get done, but kids need a break right after school. Let them burn off some energy (and calories) before they go back to the books for the evening.

Give the gift of fitness. Video games, video games, video games—that may be the extent of your kids' wish list. But you're the one with the buying power. Encourage fitness with gifts such as jump ropes, baseball bats or youth memberships to health clubs.

Reviewed 4/4/2023

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